PHOENIX – Detroit Lions team president Rod Wood spoke to a small group of local reporters at the Annual League Meetings Tuesday evening. Here are some key takeaways from that session:
1. Lions will have new helmets in 2023
It will be a newly designed helmet released later this spring and will be designed and worn to go with Detroit's grey color rush uniforms. The team will look into new uniform designs in 2024.
2. Will the Lions play in Germany?
That's still a possibility with Kansas City announced as a home team for one of the Germany games and the Lions scheduled to play the Chiefs on the road this season.
Wood said the team was open to playing in Germany this year for a road game and would prefer that to playing overseas and losing a home game in 2024. Wood acknowledged the team is overdue for an international contest, though they haven't played in Kansas City since 2003. The team played Kansas City as a road team in London in 2015.
3. Rule proposals
The Lions sponsored three rule proposals and one bylaw proposal that didn't get approved, though their proposal to have a third quarterback available on gameday was tabled and will likely still pass later in the year as the league talks through some language on whether that player has to be on the roster or can be on the practice squad or is just a player in the stadium for that designated purpose, not unlike an emergency goalie in hockey.
4. Calvin Johnson relationship
Lions Chief Operating Officer Mike Disner, who is taking the lead on mending the relationship with Hall of Fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson, said they are making progress on that front.
"I'm excited about furthering that relationship," Disner said.
He said Johnson cares deeply about family, the game of football and the city of Detroit, and those are things Disner and the Lions care about as well. He sees a resolution coming to fruition.
5. Schedule preview
Wood expects that with the hype surrounding the team this offseason they will play more on national television and primetime outside of their Annual Thanksgiving Day contest.
Wood also said with the team only having eight home games due to the rotation between the NFC and AFC crossover every other year, he requested a road game to start the year so that would potentially lead to more home games later in the year. The Lions played three of their last four games on the road in 2022.
Wood also requested a home, away, home preseason schedule with the team hosting the New York Giants for joint practices ahead of their Week 1 preseason game.
6. New field installations went well
The team upgraded with a synthetic turf installed by FieldTurf at Ford Field and the Allen Park practice facility. The installations are complete, and Wood said the feedback from the players who have been on it has been really good.
Wood said new Lions running back David Montgomery told him it was the best indoor turf he's been on.
7. Season tickets
Wood said season ticket renewals from last season were over 96 percent, which was a club record. He and the team expect Ford Field to be sold out all year long.
8. Mark your calendars for the Barry Sanders statue
Wood said he's really happy with how the statue is turning out and so is Sanders. There should be a public unveiling at the Lions first home game in 2023.
View photos from the Annual League Meetings in Phoenix, Ariz.
9. Reaction to the NFLPA survey
The NFL Players Association released a ranking of teams' facilities in a number of different categories. The Lions did pretty well overall except for low marks in food service and training room facilities. The Lions were already addressing food service before the survey was released. They are expanding their kitchen and dining area on the ground floor and building another food service area upstairs on the second floor.
10. Practice facility
The team opened their practice facility in the early 2000s and are currently deciding if it makes more sense to build a more modern facility with more room or continue to use resources on updating their current practice facility in Allen Park.
Wood said that's a decision he hasn't yet made but it's coming sooner rather than later. The team has started scouting other locations, per Wood.